Security and Safety

NTSB conducts initial review of Amtrak train recorders

Posted on December 22, 2017

The National Transportation Safety Board released Friday details gathered from the locomotive event data recorder and inward- and outward-facing cameras on Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501 that derailed Monday in DuPont, Wash.

The lead locomotive’s event data and video recorders were successfully downloaded with the manufacturer’s assistance and processed in the NTSB’s lab in Washington, D.C. An initial review of the final portion of the accident sequence revealed the following information, which is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues:

  • Inward-facing video with audio captured the crew’s actions and their conversations. A forward-facing video with audio captured conditions in front of the locomotive as well as external sounds.
  • The crew was not observed to use any personal electronic devices during the timeframe reviewed.
  • About six seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over-speed condition.
  • The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode.
  • The recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.
  • The final recorded speed of the locomotive was 78 mph.

A preliminary report detailing the facts and circumstances of the crash developed in this early stage of the investigation will be available on the NTSB website in the coming days.

The entire investigation is expected to last 12 to 24 months.

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